Last month, powerful Hurricane Matthew was churning in the Caribbean Sea and was making a bee-line straight for the island nation of Jamaica.
The close call caught the attention of Detroit Lions’ Laken Tomlinson, who was born in Jamaica. The NFL player is no stranger to hurricanes, and was poised to step in to help his homeland rebuild at a moment’s notice.
Thankfully, a shift in the storm’s path spared the island, but that did not deter Tomlinson’s desire to team up with the international relief and development organization Food For The Poor.
“After experiencing a large hurricane during my time in Jamaica, I knew that I wanted to help in whatever way I could. Even though much of the island was spared, it was important for me to help rebuild what was damaged. Many of my family members still live in Jamaica,” said Tomlinson. “I was incredibly impressed by the work that Food for the Poor has done and continues to do and knew that this was the right organization to work with.”
Inspired to give back, Tomlinson has recruited other members of the Detroit Lions to join him on his crusade to help implement an income-generating agricultural and animal husbandry initiative that will enable four schools across Jamaica to sustain their feeding programs.
“Jamaica is a beautiful country, but poverty on the island is increasing at an alarming rate. Sadly, many children are going to school hungry. The Jamaica Schools Sustainable Feeding Project will enable these schools to become self-sufficient in their food supply by simply cultivating what they eat,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “This is a wonderful program because it’s teaching children to appreciate and respect the land, which is a priceless gift. We want to thank Laken and his teammates of the Detroit Lions for their generosity.”
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and is home to more than 3 million people. Food For The Poor was founded in Jamaica nearly 35 years ago. The charity, through the generosity of its donors, has built more than 41,00 housing units island-wide, built or replaced more than 200 schools, and assists hundreds of local farmers with agricultural skills, supplies and tools.
In honor of the island’s 50 years of independence in August 2012, Food For The Poor launched the Jamaica 50/50 campaign, which was to build 50 schools within 50 month. The organization exceeded that goal by building, repairing or expanding more than 80 schools across Jamaica since 2012.
“I hope that the money raised from this campaign is enough to make even a small impact on the amazing country I once called home. I encourage everyone to donate to this great organization,” said Tomlinson.
Tomlinson was born in 1992 in Savanna-la-Mar, a coastal town located in Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica. In March of 2003, he moved to Chicago, Ill., where he attended Lane Technical College Prep High School. He was a two-sport star in both football and track. Tomlinson was drafted 28th overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft.
He was the first Duke University player to be selected in the first round of an NFL draft since Mike Junkin in 1987. He graduated from Duke with degrees in both evolutionary anthropology (B.A.) and psychology (B.S.).
Click www.FoodForThePoor.org/laken to help support Tomlinson’s agricultural projects in Jamaica.